Leeds might be the biggest financial centre outside London but it also boasts a wealth of parks and outdoor spaces. Neil Hudson takes a look at some of the most alluring countryside days out.
The Hollies, Meanwood Park
The Hollies has been described as the kind of place you might go hunting for pixies and elves. It’s also rumoured that The Lord of the Rings author J R R Tolkien spent time there. The old oak wood forms part of Meanwood Park. It is full of gnarled trees giving the illusion you are in some great, uninterrupted, ancient forest. The reality is you are bang slap in the centre of the bustling metropolis of Leeds, there’s a river, a crashing waterfall, curious winding stone stairs snaking up into the woodland, half covered in moss and lichen, shaded by ferns, all of which feeds the magical aura that seems to dwell in this inner city haven.
Oakwell Hall Country Park, Birstall
Oakwell Hall is furnished as a family home in the 1690s and offers visitors a real insight into a post-English Civil War household. The site also includes over 100 acres of country park, a visitor centre, gift shop, nature trail, picnic sites, playground and countryside centre. In the last year it has been used as a location for the filming of TV series Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and in January was visited by the Most Haunted crew. Oakwell Hall was saved in the early 20th Century after a wealthy American tried to buy it and take it stone by stone across the Atlantic.
Yeadon Tarn Nature Reserve
Yeadon Tarn is open to the public 365 days a year. The park is extremely popular with people of all ages. Younger visitors can enjoy the playground and BMX track whilst other visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll around the tarn, a relaxing game of bowls or spend a Sunday afternoon enjoying one of the summer bands in the park with entertainment from some of the region’s leading brass bands. The main feature of the park, is used for various water sports activities - it is also home to ducks and swans - and is the base for the Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre.
York Gate Garden, Adel, Leeds
York Gate is a one-acre garden tucked away behind the ancient church in Adel, on the northern outskirts of Leeds.
Created by the Spencer family during the second half of the twentieth century, and now owned and managed by Perennial, it is a garden of immense style and craftsmanship, widely recognised as one of the most innovative small gardens of the period. It has a variety of garden features, including open spaces and tunnels created by living plants. It is popular with young and old. York Gate was bequeathed to Perennial in 1994.
Chevin Forest Park, Otley
Chevin Forest Park is located in the Wharfe Valley and overlooks the market town of Otley. It consists of north-facing cliff, or escarpment, which rises steeply to a height of 280m above sea level and offers magnificent views of the Wharfe Valley. The whole park was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 1989 in recognition of its wealth of wildlife including the Green Hairstreak Butterfly and the Woodcock. Chevin Forest Park is found either side of East Chevin Road, Otley, 10 miles north-west of Leeds city centre. The post code is LS21 3DD.
Brimham Rocks, Harrogate
Brimham Rocks are balancing rock formations on Brimham Moor in North Yorkshire, England. The rocks stand at a height of nearly 30 metres in an area owned by the National Trust which is part of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The site is open all year round, typically from 8am until dusk. Entry is free but car parking is charged for visitors who are not members of the National Trust. There is a shop on site providing refreshments. Visitors are also urged to take care when climbing the rocks. The park is located at HG3 4DW.